November 16, 2012

God’s Funeral

God’s Funeral
-Thomas Hardy

And, tricked by our own early dream
And need of solace, we grew self-deceived,
Our making soon our maker did we deem,
And what we had imagined we believed,
‘Till, in Time’s stayless stealthy swing,
Uncompromising rude reality
Mangled the Monarch of our fashioning,
Who quavered, sank; and now has ceased to be.
‘So, toward our myth’s oblivion,
Darkling, and languid-lipped, we creep and grope
Sadlier than those who wept in Babylon,
Whose Zion was a still abiding hope.
‘How sweet it was in years far hied
To start the wheels of day with trustful prayer,
To lie down liegely at the eventide
And feel a blest assurance he was there!
‘And who or what shall fill his place?
Whither will wanderers turn distracted eyes
The Endgame of Secularism
For some fixed star to stimulate their pace
Towards the goal of their enterprise?’
I could not prop their faith: and yet
Many I had known: with all I sympathized;
And though struck speechless, I did not forget
That what was mourned for, I, too, once had prized.

November 15, 2012


Scientists divide the Earth into a number of different vegetation zones, also known as “biomes”. The plant and animal life found in each zone depends on the region’s climate, landscape, and latitude. Over millions of years, plants and animals have adapted to life in this range of climates, often developing special features that have helped them to survive. The map also highlights how similar landscapes, such as taiga or desert, occur at the same latitude across the world.



The areas around the North and South poles are freezing cold and covered in ice. South of the North Pole lies a region called the tundra where the lower layers of soil are permanently frozen. Hardy mosses, lichens, and shrubs are the only plants that can survive here.



In Russian, the word taiga means “cold forest.” It describes the vast evergreen forests that stretch across northern Canada, Scandinavia, and the Russian Federation. Evergreen trees, such as fir, spruce, and pine, are well-adapted to the long, snowy winters.



The higher up a mountain you go, the colder it gets. Trees and plants grow on the lower slopes of many mountains. But above a certain level, called the tree line, it is too cold and windy for plants to survive. High mountain peaks are often covered in snow all year round.



Much of the land in northern Europe and North America was once covered by deciduous forests (trees that lose their leaves in winter). Most of these have now been cut down. Deciduous trees grow well in temperate climates where it is never very hot or very cold.



Areas with a Mediterranean climate have hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. They include land around the Mediterranean Sea and other similar places, such as California in the US. Plants and trees, such as olives, have adapted to survive the lack of water in summer.



Vast grasslands cover the centers of some of the continents. They include the South American pampas and the North American prairies. They have hot, dry summers and very cold winters. Large parts of these grasslands are now plowed for wheat or used to raise cattle.



Around the equator, the climate is hot and wet all year round, and providing ideal conditions for lush, green tropical forests to thrive. The world’s rain forests may contain 50,000 different types of trees, as well as millions of other species of plants and animals.



Deserts are the hottest, driest places on Earth. Despite heat during the day, temperatures may plunge to below freezing at night. In some deserts, years pass without rain. Deserts often contain sandy soil that can only support plants such as cacti.



Between the hot deserts and tropical rain forests lie tropical grasslands, such as the African savanna. The climate here is always hot, but the year is divided into a wet and a dry season. Tall grasses, as well as low trees and shrubs, grow in these hot areas.

Physical relaxation techniques

Physical relaxation techniques are as effective as mental techniques in reducing stress. In fact, the best relaxation is achieved by using physical and mental techniques together. These three useful physical relaxation techniques can help you reduce muscle tension and manage the effects of the fight-or-flight response on your body. This is particularly important if you need to think clearly and perform precisely when you are under pressure.

The techniques we will look at are Deep Breathing, Progressive Muscular Relaxation and “The Relaxation Response”.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is a simple, but very effective, method of relaxation. It is a core component of everything from the "take ten deep breaths" approach to calming someone down, right through to yoga relaxation and Zen meditation. It works well in conjunction with other relaxation techniques such as Progressive Muscular Relaxation, relaxation imagery and meditation to reduce stress. To use the technique, take a number of deep breaths and relax your body further with each breath. That's all there is to it!

Progressive Muscular Relaxation

Progressive Muscular Relaxation is useful for relaxing your body when your muscles are tense. The idea behind PMR is that you tense up a group of muscles so that they are as tightly contracted as possible. Hold them in a state of extreme tension for a few seconds. Then, relax the muscles normally. Then, consciously relax the muscles even further so that you are as relaxed as possible.

By tensing your muscles first, you will find that you are able to relax your muscles more than would be the case if you tried to relax your muscles directly. Experiment with PMR by forming a fist, and clenching your hand as tight as you can for a few seconds. Relax your hand to its previous tension, and then consciously relax it again so that it is as loose as possible. You should feel deep relaxation in your hand muscles.

The Relaxation Response

‘The Relaxation Response’ is the name of a book published by Dr Herbert Benson of Harvard University in 1968. In a series of experiments into various popular meditation techniques, Dr. Benson established that these techniques had a very real effect on reducing stress and controlling the fight-or-flight response. Direct effects included deep relaxation, slowed heartbeat and breathing, reduced oxygen consumption and increased skin resistance. This is something that you can do for yourself by following these steps:

1.       Sit quietly and comfortably.
2.       Close your eyes.
3.       Start by relaxing the muscles of your feet and work up your body relaxing muscles.
4.       Focus your attention on your breathing.
5.       Breathe in deeply and then let your breath out. Count your breaths, and say the number of the breath as you let it out (this gives you something to do with your mind, helping you to avoid distraction).
6.       Do this for ten or twenty minutes.

An even more potent alternative approach is to follow these steps, but to use relaxation imagery instead of counting breaths in step 5. Again, you can prove to yourself that this works using the biofeedback equipment.

November 14, 2012

Job Analysis

The First Step in Managing Job Overload

We have all experienced that appalling sense of having far too much work to do and too little time to do it in. We can choose to ignore this, and work unreasonably long hours to stay on top of our workload. The risks here are that we become exhausted, that we have so much to do that we do a poor quality job, and that we neglect other areas of our life. Each of these can lead to intense stress.

The alternative is to work more intelligently, by focusing on the things that are important for job success and reducing the time we spend on low priority tasks. Job Analysis is the first step in doing this. The first of the action-oriented skills that we look at is Job Analysis. Job Analysis is a key technique for managing job overload – an important source of stress.

To do an excellent job, you need to fully understand what is expected of you. While this may seem obvious, in the hurly-burly of a new, fast-moving, high-pressure role, it is oftentimes something that is easy to overlook. By understanding the priorities in your job, and what constitutes success within it, you can focus on these activities and minimize work on other tasks as much as possible. This helps you get the greatest return from the work you do, and keep your workload under control.

Job Analysis is a useful technique for getting a firm grip on what really is important in your job so that you are able to perform excellently. It helps you to cut through clutter and distraction to get to the heart of what you need to do.


The most commonly accepted definition of stress is that it occurs when a person believes that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize”. When people feel stressed, they have made two main judgments: First, they feel threatened by the situation, and second, they believe that their capabilities and resources are not enough to meet the threat. How stressed someone feels depends on how much damage they think the situation can do them, and how closely their resources meet the demands of the situation.

Perception is key to this as (technically) situations are not stressful in their own right. Rather it is our interpretation of the situation that drives the level of stress that we feel. Quite obviously, we are sometimes right in what we say to ourselves. Some situations may actually be dangerous, may threaten us physically, socially or in our career. Here, stress and emotion are part of the early warning system that alerts us to the threat from these situations.

Very often, however, we are overly harsh and unjust to ourselves in a way that we would never be with friends or co-workers. This, along with other negative thinking, can cause intense stress and unhappiness and can severely undermine self-confidence.

Why do we Procrastinate?

Why do we Procrastinate?

In a nutshell, you procrastinate when you put off things that you should be focusing on right now, usually in favor of doing something that is more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing. Procrastinators work as many hours in the day as other people (and often work longer hours) but they invest their time in the wrong tasks. Sometimes this is simply because they don't understand the difference between urgent tasks and important tasks, and jump straight into getting on with urgent tasks that aren't actually important.

They may feel that they're doing the right thing by reacting fast. Or they may not even think about their approach and simply be driven by the person whose demands are loudest. Either way, by doing this, they have little or no time left for the important tasks, despite the unpleasant outcomes this may bring about.

Another common cause of procrastination is feeling overwhelmed by the task. You may not know where to begin. Or you may doubt that you have the skills or resources you think you need. So you seek comfort in doing tasks you know you're capable of completing. Unfortunately, the big task isn't going to go away – truly important tasks rarely do.

Other causes of procrastination include:

·         Waiting for the “right” mood or the “right” time to tackle the important task at hand;
·         A fear of failure or success;
·         Underdeveloped decision making skills;
·         Poor organizational skills; and
·         Perfectionism ("I don't have the right skills or resources to do this perfectly now, so I won't
do it at all.")

Dover Beach

Dover Beach
     -Matthew Arnold

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

November 11, 2012

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 12:38-44. 

In the course of his teaching Jesus said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. 

They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation. 

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.

A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. 

Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. 

For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."